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Old 05-05-2004, 11:56 PM   #74
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
Oddometer: 6,770
Close Encounters in Wyoming...

24th April

I’m on the road at 1020, heading north up the I25 for 50 miles or so, before heading east towards Devil’s Tower, my destination for the day. After leaving the Interstate, the view starts getting more interesting, but there is a strong, gusty wind from the north, which makes the ride uncomfortable…



I stop for lunch at the town of Wright, a coalmining town. It’s the home to the Black Thunder Mining Corp, the largest open-cast coal mine in North America…



…which is difficult to see from the road. What is easier to see is the amount of coal being shipped out. These two trains…



were both moving at walking pace, whilst their trucks were filled, in turn, from the massive hoppers at the railhead. I checked the odometer – each train was1.4 miles long… :eek:
I press on north and east towards Devil’s Tower, eventually arriving at about 1530 – or maybe 1630 – I may have gone through a time zone…:P



Devil’s Tower was constructed by Stephen Spielberg’s production team for the film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. Work commenced in 1976 and was complete by 1977 – the production costs exceeded $20 million, making the film the highest ever budget at the time. The main tower, which Spielberg apparently designed himself, was criticised by film buffs as being ‘too much like an upended bucket’. It was originally made entirely from earth-filled glass fibre, but since cracks appeared in 1984, it has been sheathed in reinforced concrete. It rests on a base of bulldozed landfill. The film was such a success that the then president, Ronald Reagan, asked to see the ‘National Monument’ where it was set. Rather than cause embarrassment to the administration, a ‘cover story’ was constructed to make it appear that the tower was a natural landmark. The visit was a success and the story was adopted by the Governor of Wyoming, as the state has few natural monuments. The ‘landmark’ now appears on the Wyoming licence plate…



Actually, it’s a natural ‘plug’ of igneous rock, exposed by the erosion of sedimentary rocks which surrounded it. It was designated the USA’s first National Monument by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906…



On the approach road is a ‘town’ of prairie dogs. There are dozens of them, and they seem totally at ease with humans, although there are signs everywhere warning you not to feed them. They stay very alert, though and are always within easy bolting distance of their burrows…



I get back on the bike and set course towards Mount Rushmore. It’s too late to visit this afternoon, so I stop at the town of Newcastle and check into the Fountain Motel.



By the way – this is the Ford Thunderbird – I really like it…:)

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All text & original photos Mike Oughton 2004 - 2014

MikeO screwed with this post 12-11-2010 at 03:44 PM
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